SOME SAY that in the next 1,000 years homo sapiens will split in two camps: homo pauperis, poor ordinary folk with bad teeth (a little like today’s English); and wealthy homo novus, whose live-in surgeons will preserve a mannequinesque physique. If it sounds like Daily Mail hokum touting bikini-clad examples, the suggestion is that there is hideous diversity among plebs, and beautiful conformity among ‘slebs.
The car world went through something similar in the Eighties. All sports cars looked like Ferraris, and the crappy things your Dad used to drive varied from angular relics to aero-kitsch. Today, the scene is somewhat different. While said father would have a hard time distinguishing in practical terms a Mazda6 from an E-Class parked on his drive-way, replace his Jaguar F-Type with a Toyota FT86 and the chances are he’ll notice. There is fantastic variety in sports cars, not least because the term is so vague. Front, mid, or rear engine, two seats or four, open or closed as long as it has two doors (sorry, CLS). The Merc SL, Audi TT, Porsche 918 all qualify. So do black-and-white Morgans and red, blood red, Ferraris.
The latest red sports car of that famous brand is the new Mazda MX-5 Miata, a car that has the same ‘baby Ferrari’ analogy trotted out whenever there’s a whiff of face-lift or replacement. But hold your clichés: this is one slick machine. Katsushika Hokusai provides the most fitting metaphor for the bodyside, those shoulders a restless sea of crests, spooling over tiny wheels the size of a distant Mount Fuji. It is as though every crucial element for fun has been vacuum-packed, leaving wonderful curves and hollows sucked around the good bits. I love the gaunt channel in the rear of the door, dividing haunch from flowing fender. Those rear lamps are super-elemental, and the front has deft LEDs in the tear-ducts. It promises fun.
Usually the ball is dropped when you open a door, but Mazda keeps running towards the touchline. Simple, low architecture extends the lightweight theme, fashioned so it won’t go out of it. That the design has improved so substantially, despite the substantial loss of 100kg is masterful indeed. Ferrari LaFerrari? Its just like a big Miata.